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Awesome: 8%
Worth A Look: 20%
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Pretty Crappy: 18%

5 reviews, 20 user ratings

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Anatomy of Hell
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by Scott Weinberg

"More gruesome arthouse porn from the reliable Ms. Breillat. Joy."
1 stars

"Watch me when I'm unwatchable" says the main character, a young woman who spends the next 70-some minutes with her legs spread while various things are inserted into her vagina. Yep, it's Catherine Breillat time again, which means men are evil, shock value jockeys for precedence over navel-gazin' arthouse philosophizin'...oh, and don't forget the endlessly lingering closeups of every genital known to mankind. And speaking of "unwatchable"...

Catherine Breillat (Fat Girl, Romance) is the French female equivalent of Larry Clark (Kids, Ken Park). Both filmmakers think they're a whole lot deeper than they really are, they both enjoy lingering on the slimiest portions of human sexuality, and both filmmakers are well-known across several continents mainly because they deliver arthouse smut of the highest order. Sure, sure, you'll find a big collection of critics who can find something deeply meaningful and courageously insightful about the importance of a rock-hard wang, but there's more to making a movie than just hiring some rock-hard wangs.

Since a movie like Anatomy of Hell gains attention solely due to its catalog of onscreen ickiness, I'll do the distributors a favor and cut right to the chase:

Opening shot of the movie is of a young man sucking another man's penis. Just to let you know you haven't wandered into The Cat in the Hat.

After the plot is laid out (a sad lady hires a woman-hating homosexual to "watch" her...and I mean really "watch" her), we're remanded to a dank apartment for the next 60-some minutes. In between huge, airy volleys of discussion about the vagina's role in human psychology, we're offered:

A garden rake inserted into the woman's...area.

An oh-so-touching tampon sequence that concludes with the drinking of the related...fluid.

The placement of a tube of lipstick into an orifice it should never go. Two orifices...actually.

A post-coital penis slathered in red gooey blood.

I can hear what you're thinking already: that I disliked this movie because it made me "uncomfortable" or "women scare me" or something else equally silly. Wrong-o. I was raised on Lucio Fulci flicks; some gal making a teabag from a recently used tampon isn't gonna turn my stomach or raise my ire. In the same vein, I can spot Shock Value Cinema when I see it; generally these movies offer very little aside from their taboo-thrashing tendencies, and such is clearly the case here.

What's most tiresome about a movie like Anatomy of Hell is that it's content to be artsy and vague and languid and deep, which is sort of ironic when you realize the movie's just so irretrievably boring. Were there any sort of challenging insight or evocative mood to be offered amidst all the unflinching, labia-obsessed explicitness of it all, well then I must have missed it while I was giggling over the unintentional humor of the thing.

More likely Ms. Breillat is just content to shock her audience into buzzing about her movies, regardless of whether her audience actually, y'know, likes her movies. Yes, Anatomy of Hell is quite shocking; it's also pretty darn awful.

As long as there's been a delineation between 'arthouse' movies and the 'popular' kind, there's always been Arthouse Porn. The upper-class cineastes can get their jollies while watching something deeply "artistic". Heck, I may be just one ignorant American who can't appreciate the brilliance of Breillat's French Skinema, but I know pretentious subtitled porn when I see it.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8930&reviewer=128
originally posted: 04/20/04 21:13:05
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/31/08 adam a great pos film 1 stars
10/04/06 Mas-ud Its a gr8 piece of work 4 stars
9/13/06 lee fantastic 5 stars
5/25/06 Ashish A great deal worse than Breillat's 'Romance'. Pretentious and boring. 1 stars
5/25/05 What a waste bad porn. 1 stars
2/03/05 tatum Breillat's most pretentious film yet 1 stars
12/14/04 donut what a load of rubbish, absolute crap eat shit and die 1 stars
11/15/04 nika this film stayed with me a long time...I agree-rethink it! 4 stars
10/20/04 michael ISENBERG VISUALLY interesting ....... 4 stars
10/16/04 Ola Nordmann The feminist Breillat tells us things we have heard before. Nothing to shout about. 3 stars
10/07/04 Ted Moons Silly - yet another try too hard to be artsy from the French. 1 stars
9/30/04 Graham I know the events are symbolic. The film keeps bashing me over the head with its symbolism 1 stars
9/28/04 mchoir ok 2 stars
9/03/04 YoBone! This film is not what it appears to be. ALL the events and images are symbolic. Rethink it. 5 stars
7/30/04 Sam Trubridge Not quite the 'art wank' that Scott alleges, but who is Breillat addressing? 3 stars
7/11/04 Peter Uneccisarily provocative. The dialogue was pretencious 2 stars
7/08/04 Sam Hunt a very enlightening look at the one of the ways people view each other and themsellves 5 stars
7/07/04 cecilia BLOODY GOOD!!!!!! 5 stars
7/03/04 Chris Lovell What astrange concept - that men hate all women because of their genitals - personally I fu 2 stars
4/02/04 chayang crazyguy 4 stars
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  30-Jun-2004 (R)

Directed by
  Catherine Breillat

Written by
  Catherine Breillat

  Rocco Siffredi
  Amira Casar

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